Questioning (Not Telling) Ourselves is the Best Call-to-Action

Thinking about whether we will do a task or not (“Will I…?”) rather than focusing on actually performing the task (“I will….”) has been shown to increase both the probability of us eventually undertaking the task and how successfully we will perform it.

The idea seems that “interrogative self-talk”, rather than declarative statements, leads to more internal motivation due to a greater feeling of autonomy.

Voter turnout in an election increased to 86.7% in people who had been asked to make a prediction about whether they would vote, compared to 61.5% in those who were not asked the question.

When a restaurant changed the receptionist’s script when taking a booking from ‘Please call if you have to cancel,’ to ‘Will you call if you have to cancel?’ the no-show rate dropped from 30% to 10%.

Professor Richard Cialdini attributes this effect to our need to act in ways that are consistent with our previously established views of ourselves. Asking ourselves questions that draw attention to our motivations force us to define who we are and what is important to us. Having defined these things, we have to act in accordance with them or face cognitive dissonance.

Those two anecdotes (voter turnout, restaurant cancellations) are taken from chapter 16 of Robert Cialdini’s Yes! (previously).

Will you tweet about this study?

via @cojadate